Philippines reports first case of novel coronavirus

Marje Pelayo
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday (January 30) confirmed its first case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippines.

The patient, a 38-year-old woman from Wuhan City, China, arrived in the Philippines via Hong Kong on January 21.

The woman was admitted to a government hospital on January 25 after experiencing mild cough.

“She is currently asymptomatic,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III at a press briefing.

“She has no fever and no other signs and symptoms suggesting illness at this point,” he added.

The patient’s test results returned Thursday from the Australia-based Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory.

The Health Secretary advised the public to practice precautionary measures at all times, avoid crowded places as much as possible, maintain proper hygiene by hand washing more often, and wear a surgical mask once experiencing any of the symptoms to prevent the spread of the virus.

Duque assures the Department’s readiness in the face of the current epidemic.

“DOH assures health facilities are equipped and prepared to receive and care for PUIs (persons under investigation) and confirmed 2019-nCoV cases,” he said.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) is providing technical support to the DOH in its response to 2019-nCoV following confirmation of a positive case.

This support includes strengthening of laboratory capacity, logistics, case management, coordination and information sharing, as well as risk communication.

The WHO encourages the public to keep protected against the risk of novel coronavirus by practicing the following:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue paper away immediately and wash hands
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough
  • If experiencing fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early and share previous travel history with the health care provider
  • When visiting marketplaces in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals
  • The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

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